best wishes

It’s the wedding of one of my best friends tomorrow.  I say ‘one of my best friends’ as a kind of defence mechanism, because he probably is my best friend, although I’m not his.  Which is fine, really.  I’m a backbencher with no formal role at the wedding.  He’s a popular guy with more friends than me.

On switching secondary school in the middle of my teens, I was led to a classroom which would contain several boys who I still count as friends today.  A good handful of them will be there tomorrow.

He was one of them; the cool kid on the cool kids’ table in class.  I never quite attained that status and flailed at the fringes, often being forgotten for parties and gatherings, either by virtue of living a couple of villages too far away, or generally being a forgettable kid.  He claims his popularity waned in the sixth form, when I went elsewhere to study my A Levels, but we came back together in our University town: a place he’s never left.

During University and for a few years afterwards, we were as close as girlfriends would allow – his more than mine, frequently meeting for beery evenings.

Two or three days before I was finally due to leave the town for something approaching a permanent job, we went out drinking.  Much of our friendship has revolved around drinking.  He can’t have just one drink.  It will usually spiral, though this has been tapered in recent times.

But that night, two or three days before I left, it did predictably spiral.  He remembers it better than I – with good reason because it was the night he met a young woman he’ll stand with at the front of a nice middle England Church tomorrow.  He recounted it last week when we met for beers which didn’t spiral.

He had another friend out in town, a friend and colleague who was leaving his office.  This guy was encouraging him to go to a dark and dingey indie club mostly frequented by pierced, scary teens wearing dark T-shirts and sullen looks.  I wasn’t at all keen but was lured close.  A five pound entry fee confirmed my view but my friend was set, he was going in.  We shook hands, said see you later, and he went in and was introduced to his bride-to-be, who is the least likely character to be found in such a venue.  She shines with a toothy, well-heeled veneer.

The following night we both had dates.  He’d moved quickly.  Mine was with an eccentric French woman with a cannabis dependency and strange teeth.  His was with a 19 year-old, beautiful perfect girl.  19?!  Bastard..  We exchanged text messages during our dates.  He’d said he thought he was out of his league.  Of course he wasn’t.  His way is to be self-deprecating to a fault.  It usually makes him seem charming and cute.

I, on the other hand, had stopped trying to make my date laugh or even smile because it did something alarming to her face, which was quite reasonable when relaxed.

Then I moved away for a few years, to a couple of different places.  Although generally slack and without much initiative, he was one of my only friends from home who visited.  I say this as a defence mechanism too.  He was the only friend who visited me; once in both towns.

I returned to our University town just under a year ago.  I knew I could have more of a social life here than I had in London, a more real network.  And it was cheaper so I could afford more nice things: a bigger flat and a better car.  Knowing he’d be around for a beer now and then, when his relationship allowed: that was no disincentive.

She’s excellent, his betrothed.  Several years our junior, which is idyllic in several ways: a younger bride with no biological clock screaming and a frankly indulgent amount of time to get used to the idea of fatherhood.  But I do like her too, though he accurately skewered my early misgivings – which perhaps she shared about me.  I felt the need to prove myself.  She has one of those gushing, gleaming manners which can immediately strike you as artificial even if it’s not, especially when delivered by tall, attractive, smart females, as she is; and received by bitter, cynical blokes like me.  But this is just her.  It isn’t a front; it’s genuine.  I’ve grown to recognise this.

God knows what emotional cocktail will gurgle in my gut when I see them up there tomorrow – notwithstanding disasters or drama.  Probably one or two will be morbidly self-regarding.

Not sure how to finish this now.  I wish them the best.

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One Response to best wishes

  1. that bit about trying not to make your date laugh anymore is hilarious 🙂

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